Tongue discoloration

The tongue is a very important and oft overlooked part of the mouth. It plays a part not only in eating, but is indispensable in speech, and thus it is in the patient’s best interest to keep it healthy and functional. Normally, the tongue is pinkish in colour, and is covered in tiny taste buds. But if something unexpected happens, our tongue can become discoloured, and tiny white spots can appear as well. Usually almost harmless problems like minor fungal infections are to blame, but tongue discolouration can be a sign of more serious problems as well. It can be a sign of vitamin deficiency, or even AIDS, or the first signs of oral cancer. These deserve a more serious look, and you should go and see a dentist as soon as possible. The next few pages are dedicated to the many problems and causes of tongue discolouration.

A lack of fluids

Our system can become dehydrated from even a common cold, or a simple viral infection, and a fever always drains fluids from the body. These fluids need to be replaced. If our mouth dries out, it becomes defenceless against bacteria, which can proliferate very quickly. This can cause a greyish white discoloration of the tongue. Drink plenty of fluids, most of all water, and you should consult a doctor if you need to take care of your oral cavity in any different way than normal, as many illnesses require slightly different oral hygiene routines.

Candida infection

Candida is a fungus that is very prolific, and can be found in the body of every second person, and most people don’t even know they have it, as there can be absolutely no symptoms. If the tongue and mouth have white patches of mould like substances, then we can be sure of an infection. Usually elderly people and infants and those who are immunocompromised (pregnant women, cancer patients, those suffering from autoimmune deficiencies, diabetics and those who are undergoing treatment that involves strong medication like antibiotics) end up getting it. It can be treated with a special mouthwash, but you should first talk to your dentist, because you may need to take medication to get rid of the treatment.


Too much plaque

If we neglect to clean our mouth properly, and we do not take good care of our teeth, gums and tongue, then the tongue can seem infected even if it is completely healthy. If you can see a large deposit of plaque on your tongue, it is worth it to invest in a tongue scraper. Its use can guarantee relief form plaque, dead cells and can aid in the prevention of halitosis.


Leukoplakia is typically caused by irritation or smoking, but it can be genetically inherited as well. The tongue, the area under the tongue, and the inside of the mouth develops a white film. The structure of leukoplakia is such that it is loose and harmless, and can be easily removed, but just to be safe, you should have a professional look at it, as some more serious illnesses can also produce these symptoms.

Linchen ruber planus

This is an autoimmune disease of unknown origins, which causes inflammation and is usually found on the skin or on the mucus membranes. On the skin it usually manifests itself as small red dots, often appearing in lines. When this disease strikes, it is often only possible to treat the symptoms, and the patient needs to quit smoking during the time, and has to abide exactly with oral hygiene requirements.

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